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Monday, March 5, 2012

Quintessential Quote #41

"Now, Watson, the fair sex is your department."
-- Sherlock Holmes, "The Adventure of the Second Stain"

This is one of those statements that seems undeniable.

By his own account in The Sign of Four, the good doctor has "an experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents." He was married at least twice, and many scholars say three times. One commentator makes it five times!

Watson's appeal to women is easy to understand: He is noble, fearless, loyal, and considerate. Sherlock Holmes, on the other hand? Not so much!

But before we rush to agree that as a lover Holmes "would be putting himself in a false position," look at the data. Disguised as the plumber Escott, Holmes wooed and won Charles Augustus Milverton's maid, Agatha, in what seems to be record time. He must have had something going for him!

In fact, he was often kind and sympathetic in his treatment of female clients. Watson is disappointed that he shows no further interest in Violet Hunter once her case is solved -- an indication that such an interest was at least a possibility in Watson's mind. Was his courting of Agatha really all that unpleasant to him? One wonders whether the man did not protest too much.

And didn't Holmes somewhere mention "my son, should I ever chance to have one" -- again admitting of the theoretical possibility?

It's true that Holmes said that "women are never to be trusted, Watson, not even the best of them." And I've never doubted Watson's assessment that Holmes did not feel "any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler." Respect and admiration were what he felt.

But that doesn't mean that Watson was the only one of the duo who any appreciation for or understanding of women. In fact, I suspect that when Watson wrote that Holmes "disliked and distrusted the sex," he was only half right.

What say you, Baker Street Babes?

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